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Ok, so I don’t think there is anything better than waking up to find a gift from Prestat under the tree, and their most seasonal of gifts has to be their Stockings and Baubles Gift.

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Packaged in an absolutely stunning Prestat Jute bag, which would make the most darling little lunch bag, and it’s absolutely chocolate-a-block (pun intended) with gorgeous little treasures which are perfect for Christmas.

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All the boxes can be hung on the Christmas tree, and they are just the cutest thing imaginable. Then, once you crack them open, there are the most divine little truffles inside!

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The Snowman Baubles is filled with coconut truffles. Dusted in coconut, and filled with a rich creamy centre, these are the very best snowballs you can imagine!

fullsizeoutput_c5fIf you prefer something a little more chocolate-y, the Santa Bauble is filled with milk chocolate truffles. These are a crisp outer shell with an almost gooey chocolate centre. I love one of these along with a good cup of coffee – super decadent, and very delicious!

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The stocking of Praline Truffles is just a dream. The truffles inside have crispy outer shells, which dissolve into a chocolate-nut heaven. Again, these are a must-have little treat with a well made espresso!

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Last up are the Sea Salt Caramel Truffles, which are the absolute definition of indulgence. A dark outer shell holds the most perfect, gooey salted caramel centre. These are an absolute joy of a treat!

Prostate Baubles and Stockings is priced at £35 and is available here

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Working in Edinburgh, it can sometimes feel like all the good spots are in the city. But, I do rather like getting out and about at weekends, so when I heard about the new Restoration Yard at Dalkeith House, I was keen to get out to see if for myself.

The new Restoration Yard is pretty much the perfect day out. If you have children, there is a whole playground that looks like something out of Hogwarts, with slides and the most incredible tree house, and if you’re up for a bit of fresh air, there are trails where you can bike or dog walk.

When we went, we were after something a little more warming, so after having a good nose through the Restoration Yard shops, we headed to the Restoration Cafe. It’s an absolutely glorious spot which has the most mouth-watering menu you can imagine.

As we got to grips deciding what to go for, we enjoyed a glass of prosecco (£4.50) and soaked up all the quirky little details of the restaurant. Each table is like a treasure chest – with tiny little relics from Dalkeith House all tucked inside. Out table had a Lady Dalkeith theme, with retro lipstick cases and old telegrams inside.

To start with, we went for pretty classic options. The Smoked salmon ballontine, cucumber & caper relish, (£8) was a wonderfully fresh start to the meal. Flavoursome morsels of salmon with crisp cucumber set the tastebuds going.

I went for the more substantial option of the Chicken liver parfait, Restoration Yard chutney, sourdough toast (£6.50). Honestly, this could have been a lunch in itself, and it was absolutely delightful!

The mix of rich, savoury chicken liver parfait was expertly balanced with the spiced Restoration Chutney. Filled with Festive spice, the chutney was filled with slabs of fruit and fig, and the parfait was wonderfully rich and smooth.

To enjoy all the parfait and relish – homemade toast. Still warm, it was a seriously comforting start to the meal.

Then it was time for the mains, and I think we ordered the two heartiest choices on the menu. First up with the Braised beef cheeks with creamy mashed potato & seasonal vegetables (£13), which just tasted like winter on a plate. A huge hunk of slowly braise beef cheek rested on a mound of creamy mashed potatoes and winter vegetables. It was so good, I’ve actually gone out and bought a slow cooker to try and replicate the whole thing myself at home!

I had opted for Veal Ragu with Papperdelle, and it was an absolute triumph of a dish. Shot through with sweet nuggets of winter vegetables and chestnut mushrooms, it was absolute perfection.

The veal itself had been slow-cooked, and was wonderfully sweet and flavoursome. Combined with the pappardelle, which was al-dente perfection, it was precisely the kind of dinner you want to enjoy on a cold evening. We were seated beside the windows, and it was so lovely to get to sit and enjoy such wonderful food as dusk descended around us.

After sitting savouring every mouthful of dinner, we couldn’t resist a few mouthfuls of pudding! When we saw Sticky Toffee Pudding, our minds were made up! We shared a huge slab of moist sponge, bathed in Toffee Sauce and crowned with a rich swirl of Vanilla Ice Cream.

It’s the kind of dessert made to be enjoyed on a lazy Sunday evening, and once again, it was an absolute delight of a dish. The sponge was wonderfully moist and shot through with fruit, whilst the sauce was richly sweet. We couldn’t manage the whole thing, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying!

We finished things off with a couple of coffees which were piping hot and absolutely wonderful!

By this point, we were among the last stragglers at Restoration Yard, and it was time to head out of Dalkeith.

The Restoration Cafe has to be one of the area’s best kept secrets, even though it’s only 20 minutes outside of Edinburgh! To say I’m a fan is a bit of an understatement – I’ve been back twice already!

 

 

 

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Can you believe that this time next week it will be Christmas? I certainly can’t! So, I thought that I would share one of my favourite little Festive treats – Charbonnel et Walker’s Pink Champagne Tree baubles. Subtle enough in decoration to hang on the tree all week long, you can crack them open to reveal a handful of truffles inside. I’ve mentioned before about how delicious these are, and I think it’s so fun to hide little treats on the tree and have people discover them when they’re round for drinks.

As you would expect from Charbonnel, the chocolates are absolutely delicious, and I think I’m going to be adding them to gifts too!

 

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Ok, if you’re in Edinburgh tonight, you have to drop every plan you’ve made, and get yourself over to Byron on North Bridge. Not only is it the best burger spot in town, but to celebrate Cheesemas (the most wonderful of holidays) there are 200 hundred free burgers, as well as free Brewdog beer for everyone!

I popped into the North Bridge restaurant last night to see what all the fuss was about, and honestly, the Cheesemas burger isn’t one you want to miss! Two beef patties are piled high, and draped with melted Cheddar cheese, crowned with an onion ring, and smothered in bacon island sauce. It’s ridiculously good. We went for the Cheesemas along with Cheese Fries (delicious) and two Bourbon Vanilla milkshakes. It was an absolutely delicious mid-week treat, and honestly, we’re both still full from indulging!

Cheesemas starts at 6pm – see you there?

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I feel like everyone is really in the Christmas spirit this year, and I’m pretty sure it’s because 2016 has been a bit of a tough one. I’ve been loving all the fun little extra touches and flourishes around the house, and one of the most stylish has to be these Charbonnel et Walker Pink Champagne truffle crackers.

Packaged in the brand’s harlequin print, I love hiding these in the tree for inquisitive guests to stumble across. Tucked inside each cracker are three of Charbonnel’s heavenly pink champagne truffles, which are the most indulgent little bites. Equal parts creamy chocolate with a bite of alcoholic champers, I love one served alongside a strong espresso.

Charbonnel et Walker Pink Champagne truffle crackers are priced at £5.50 each and are available here.

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Sunday always seems to be the perfect day for brunch. Late and slightly lazy mornings feel like such a treat, especially when you’re up as early as I am every day! So, I absolutely jumped at the chance to sample Montpelier’s brunch menu.

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They’ve just been named as the best brunch in Edinburgh by ion magazine, so, as you can imagine, I went with high expectations! Situated in Bruntsfield, we parked the car nearby, and when we got in, we were met with possibly the cutest Christmas decorating in the whole of Edinburgh. Everywhere you looked there were fluffy little owls perched alongside teeny stockings and berries.

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We settled down to the task of ordering, we got some tea and orange juice to keep us going. The restaurant had a really wonderful atmosphere – buzzing with groups of friends, families and couples, all enjoying a bit of a morning treat. There was even the most adorable maltese sitting under a neighbouring table, which was very difficult not to offer treats to!

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Since we were in to see what was on offer, we had to order the The Full Monty (£11.95). This really is a breakfast fit for a king, and comes with a pot of tea and a glass of orange juice. If you’re after something to really set you up for the day, this is it!

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The Full Monty is literally everything you could imagine in a breakfast on one plate. Fluffy eggs, baked beans, bacon, sausage, haggis and black pudding all competed for space with a rack of fresh toast and a potato scone. Considering we had dived into Montpeliers out the rain, it was really a perfect winter warmer of a dish. I admit to nicking a bit of sausage, and it was absolutely delicious – flavourful and herby, everything was so fresh and flavourful, we were more than a little disappointed when we couldn’t quite finish it!

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When I saw I could order a stack of pancakes, complete with maple syrup and crispy bacon (£5.95) there wasn’t another choice for me. There’s something about fluffy pancakes smothered in syrup that’s just delightful, and then the addition of bacon (especially when it’s crispy) just makes it heaven.

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The stack was three pancakes high, and they were absolute perfection! With crunchy outer edges and soft, fluffy centres which just sucked up the syrup, the dish was exactly what I was after! It was such a treat to be able to sit on a weekend morning, and really enjoy breakfast. Sitting in the window of Montpeliers, we got to people watch (my favourite) and really savour the morning, soaking up all of the restaurant’s convivial atmosphere. It was such a lovely way to spend an hour or so!

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Also, I just wanted to draw attention to the amazing initiative that the restaurant is currently running. If you’re dining (or just having a drink) you can add a couple of pounds onto your bar bill, and it means that a homeless person will be able to enjoy a hot Christmas meal. If you’ve been in the city centre recently, you will have noticed how many people need our help, especially in this cold weather, so I really appreciated the gesture.

Thank you so much to Montpeliers for having us!

 

 

 

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Now that we are squarely in winter, I’m on serious cold-prevention at the moment. Honestly, I only need to see someone sneeze before I’ve got a cold, so over the past few weeks, I’ve been introducing Manuka Health’s MGO 30 Manuka Honey Blend into my diet. Every morning, before heading to work, I’ve been adding a teaspoon of the stuff into a cup of tea which I drink before heading off. Manuka honey has been scientifically proven to boost immunity and help soothe sore throats, which is perfect for protecting against flu season.

Manuka Health Honey is priced at £13.39 and is available here

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When we headed down to the Cotswolds last month, I was on a bit of a mission to sample some seriously old-school English pubs and inns. Thankfully, Oxfordshire is packed full of them, and one of the best has to be The White Horse in Duns Tew.

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We headed over on a rather rainy night, dragging ourselves away from the wood burning fire at Bruern Cottages (more about that later) we were met with a picture perfect stone inn, complete with rooms to the rear.

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We parked in the on-site carpark, so entered through the back. After weaving through throngs of locals chatting away at the bar, we were shown to the dining area of the restaurant, and honestly, it couldn’t have been cosier. A couple of seriously chill dogs were scattered throughout the bar and in one half of the dining area, whilst the other side was reserved for two-legged patrons.

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The interior of The White Horse couldn’t have been nicer to spend a rainy evening in. Each table was lit with an adorable little gas light, whilst various lamps were scattered throughout. I adored the kitschy pictures on the wall and the decorated ceiling. It was the absolute definition of cosy.

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The menu changes daily to reflect what’s in season, so, as we pondered over our choices, I opted for a glass of prosecco. At £5 a glass I was seriously impressed at how delicious it was – dry and fruity, it was good enough for a second glass!

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After debating over a few options, we went for a bit of a surf’n’turf selection of starters. First up was a deconstructed prawn marie rose, featuring an entire pint of shrimp! It was a seriously generous portion to begin a meal with, but an absolutely delicious one!

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The prawns were obviously very fresh, tender and full of flavour. Paired with freshly baked sourdough toast and homemade mayonnaise, it was a fun take on a classic pub dish. Obviously the locals agreed, as I don’t think that there was a table who didn’t order them!

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I don’t  think I can see Chicken Liver Pate on a menu and not order it. My trip to the White Horse was no different! A huge slab of it was served alongside homemade sourdough toast and cornichons.

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The pate was incredibly rich and velvety smooth. Sprinkled with a touch of Maldon salt, I could have munched away on it all evening. The cornichon lent a vinegar-y twang which cut through pate wonderfully. For such a simple dish, it was perfectly balanced, and was wonderful with my glass of prosecco.

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When it came to mains, there was only one choice for me – Pork Belly with greens, turnip mask, homemade black pudding and a poached pear. The White Horse source all their meat and vegetables locally, and the pork was testament to their suppliers. Incredibly rich in flavour, with a crisp crackling it was perfectly juicy and tender.

fullsizeoutput_b81The homemade black pudding was absolute perfect, and gave the dish real depth. Contrasted with the sweetness of the turnip and pear, my meal had all the flavours of autumn, and I savoured every mouthful.

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When we saw that a 10oz Ribeye was on the menu, we couldn’t not order it! The freshness of the meat was apparent in both flavour and texture, and it was absolutely melt-in-the mouth. Served with a fresh green salad and freshly cooked fries, it was the perfect pub supper.

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The fries were an absolute revelation. Piping hot, crisp and salty, I stole my fair share of these to go with my pork!

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We couldn’t quite fit in dessert, but did grab a few coffees before venturing back out in the rain. Frothy perfection, I was absolutely obsessed with my very cool royal mug.

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Far too soon we were back out in the Oxfordshire countryside winding our way back to Bruern, full of the very best food that the Cotswolds has to offer.

You can find out more information about the White Horse Duns Tew here.

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When we were on the road trip last month, one of the things I really wanted to do, was to enjoy a traditional Sunday Roast. It’s something I never really get round to in everyday life, and once we hit the Cotswolds, I became pretty much obsessed with everything terribly English.

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fullsizeoutput_b73Happily we had been booked into The Fat Fox in Watlington. Not exactly in the Cotswolds proper, but somewhere between Oxford and London. It was an absolute joy to get to – driving through autumn foliage and exploring the countryside, we were absolutely famished by the time we got there.

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The inn is pretty much your perfect English pub – with nicknacks on the mantle, and mismatched chairs and tables, it’s the definition of cosy. Considering the temperatures were undergoing a bit of a drop, this was very much appreciated!

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We were settled into the dining room, and handed the daily menu. It was a Sunday, so of course, there was only one choice we could make! Whilst we pondered our choices of starter, we were handed a board with two still warm from the oven dough balls, along with salted butter. There were a delight – crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, you can imagine how quickly these disappeared!

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We started the meal with home-cured orange smoked salmon which was served alongside cucumber, radishes and homemade mayonnaise. Whenever I see salmon on a menu, I’m almost guaranteed to order it, and I’m so glad I did at The Fat Fox!

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The fish itself was absolutely delicious – rich and seriously flavourful. The use of orange rather than the usual lemon as the citrus element was such a surprise and really made a classic dish feel new. There were also orange segments nestled in between the salmon slices which exploded with flavour.

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When the main course was served, I couldn’t hide my delight. It was an absolutely picture perfect roast beef dinner. Our plates came absolutely straining under all the goodies: there were slices of still pink roast beef, the silky smooth celeriac puree and rich liver stuffing which I think I could easily live off, not to mention a crispy puff of a Yorkshire pudding and wonderfully crunchy roast potatoes.

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It was an absolute delight of a dish, and absolutely surpassed my ideas of what a traditional roast should be. The beef was perfection – the level was pink was ideal. It meant it was flavourful and melt in the mouth. It paired wonderfully with the stuffing, which was rich with the taste of chicken liver. I’m obsessed with celeriac normally, so the mash which was velvety in texture was my idea of heaven!

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As if the plates weren’t enough goodness, we were then brought a bowl with even more delicacies piled inside. The richest cauliflower cheese, crunchy red cabbage and buttery mashed turnip were all tucked inside, and it was the most delicious surprise! Paired with homemade Horseradish, I savoured every mouthful. You couldn’t imagine a better, more satisfying lunch.

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Every element of the lunch was perfectly balanced, and we positively rolled out back into the Oxford sunshine. I’ve been dreaming of the lunch ever since we left, and honestly, it’s worth the drive back down just to indulge again!

The Fat Fox Inn is in Watlington, Oxford and more info can be found here.

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Last week, when it came to Friday, I was more than in the mood for something of a jaunt in Edinburgh. I had had a seriously busy week at work, and had an equally packed schedule for the weekend (more on that to come) so finding a spot which felt both a touch celebratory whilst not too manic was a bit of a task. Le Di Vin though, had come highly recommended – a former church tucked in the city’s West End, it’s one of those places I’d been meaning to pop into for years.

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The building is divided into two sections, the rather marvellous sounding Le P’tite Folie is at the front of the building. With a menu hosting all my French favourites, I’m definitely heading back to try their menu, and there is even a Christmas menu, if you’re looking for something a little celebratory!

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Le Di Vin, where we were headed, is located in what was once the heart of the church. After pushing through the double doors, you’re met with an absolutely glorious space – the bar stretched along the left hand wall, whilst the city slickers perched on stools, savouring glasses of wine. There was a buzz of chatter and we were shown up to the mezzanine where we had an absolutely perfect spot to people watch for the evening.

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To be honest, I’m not the world’s biggest wine buff. Pass me a glass of prosecco or champagne and I’m good to go, but we opted for a bottle of Gran Hacienda, a Cabernet Sauvignon absolutely perfect for sipping on a rather rainy evening! Rich, fruity and absolutely delicious, I think I might be turned!

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Of course, we couldn’t enjoy a few glasses of wine on an empty stomach, so we sat on our sofas and pondered the menu. There is a surprisingly large selection on offer, especially during the day. You can even indulge in creme brûlée or stick toffee pudding!

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We decided to go for the Medium Mixed Charcuterie platter (£16) which paired perfectly with the wine. After a few minutes, our waitress arrived with an absolutely huge platter, positively groaning under all the goodies!

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We were presented with the perfect mix of meats and cheeses from which to choose – there was even something of a garlicky terrine and cornichon on which to munch, as well as a very generous basket filled with freshly baked bread and oatcakes.

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It was such a treat just to be able to sit back, relax, sip great wine and chat, all whilst enjoying the buzz of the bar below. There was a surprising mix of people there too – a couple of students were sitting on their laptops, studying and enjoying a glass of wine (why didn’t I think of that at uni?!) whilst tables around were a mix of friends, dates and work nights out.

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Since we had to head out early the next morning, we couldn’t spend quite the whole evening in La Di Vin (despite desperately wanting to), but heading out into the darkness was made so much better when we noticed the fairy lights which sparkled in the darkness. It was a magical end to the evening!

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Getting to visit the Cotswolds last month was a bit of a dream. I’d been hankering after a visit after a couple of family friends had headed down, and hadn’t stopped talking about it. Located an easy two hours away from the centre of London, it’s a decently easy commute from the city, and it’s seriously worlds away.

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Bruern Cottage’s Cope residence was our base, and honestly, it couldn’t have been lovelier. A one bedroom cottage, with a log fireplace, and the most sublimely comfortable bed you can imagine, it was the coziest spot to spend an evening. Like all of the Bruern properties, the decoration of Cope was perfection – comfy sofas in front of the fire, led to a dining room big enough to host a dinner party. The use of antique furniture and lithographs from nearby Bruern Abby lent a dash of local history and elegance. The kitchen was equipped with all mod cons, and it was so much fun to be able to potter about, without feeling like we were stepping on anyone’s toes. Bruern have cottages which sleep up to 10 people, so if you’re planning a family getaway sometime soon, you know where to go!

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Ok, so not technically in the Cotswolds was The Fat Fox Inn in Watlington. Home of perhaps the best English Sunday Roast you can imagine, it is an absolutely picture-perfect pub and inn. Driving through the Oxfordshire countryside on a sunny afternoon was an absolute joy, and we were met by the friendliest of landlords and chefs you could wish for!

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Exposed beams, and mix and match chairs added to the sense of comfortable warmth, and it was the perfect spot to while away an afternoon. Only about an hour outside of London, if you’re looking for somewhere to head to on weekends, this is it. The menu is entirely seasonal, and makes use of the bountiful countryside, meaning all produce is local, sustainable and entirely delicious!

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Heading back into the Cotswolds, we couldn’t resist popping into The Maytime Inn. Dating back to the 17th century, I fell in love with the sandy-coloured stone and the promise of over 4o gins to choose from. We enjoyed a sunny hour in their famous beer garden, and made friends with resident pub-dog Alfie.

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Considering that Alice in Wonderland is one of my favourite books from childhood, I couldn’t not make a bit of a pilgrimage to The Perch in Oxford. Not only is it an absolutely picture-perfect inn (one of England’s oldest!) but it was the venue for Lewis Carroll’s very first public reading of the book!

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There are few spots surrounding The Perch which pop up in Wonderland, so after a bit of a stroll around town, we retired indoors to sample their lunch menu. Their menu is, as you might expect, locally sourced and filled with seasonal produce. We opted for River Fowey Mussels which were plump and sweet, as well as Braised Venison Suet Pie which was basically the dreamiest take on autumnal comfort food you can imagine.

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I had heard about The Ragged Cot from a few people, so we headed over for a bit of an afternoon pick-me-up before heading back up north. Their shed was the perfect spot to enjoy a light lunch, and I just adored the cute, eclectic decor, and the food was just a delight!

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We had also heard some seriously good things about The White House located in nearby Bladon. An absolutely adorable pub, with overflowing window flowers, we opted for a hearty supper. The owners took over in 2014, and since then, they have put their heart and soul into turning it into on of the Cotswolds’ best loved gems. The food was delicious – home-cooked and freshly prepared, the fish flaked beautifully, whilst dessert was an icy dream!

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The last place we popped into was The Fox Inn in Barrington. This was the absolute definition of old-school charm. Taking our seats at a scrubbed oak table, we fell in love with the exposed stone walls and open fireplace.

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The Inn was only a couple of minutes from Bruern, and we enjoyed hearty portions of homemade Cotswolds Shepherd’s Pie. Piles of creamy mashed potato was layered with rich, succulent lamb, creating a dish which was absolutely perfect for beating the autumn chill! The menu is filled with dishes that your granny would make, but a bit better. (although don’t tell her that!)

I was so surprised to see that there were so many places to go in the Cotswolds, and I’m already planning a return jaunt!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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